Tonight, my partner and I are staying in Plymouth as couchsurfers. There is nothing particularly unusual about this for us. We’ve been registered users of http://www.couchsurfing.org for about four years. Couchsurfing.org is a website where users register to surf and host each other. Tonight, over a glass of wine, we shared some of the lessons we’ve learned.
- Be who you are. Your being and your presence is your gift to your host.
- Don’t feel too indebted. People host because they like to.
- Be generous with your time and energy. Offer to do the dishes or cook a meal, as you would a friend.
- Be clear and direct about your arrangements. Every host is different and every surfing experience is different. There are things you need to know. What time, if at all, do you want us to leave the house in the morning? Can we use the wifi?
- Share your time with your host but also, do your own thing. This is a fine balancing act. You have to be yourself and be the independent traveller you are but also be interested enough in your host to nurture the friendship that you have for even this one day.
- Leave a reference. The referencing system on the site is exactly what makes it special and what makes it work. References build credibility and foster openness from future contacts.
- Be part of your local CS group, if there is one. If there isn’t, start one.
Couchsurfing has been a wondeful blessing in my life. As a host I have enjoyed meeting new people and exploring my own place as a traveller. I have learned to express my own boundaries. As a couchsufer, I have been able to afford travel. I have made friends.
If you’d like to find out more about the world of CS, visit http://www.couchsurfing.org.